A New Way to Explore and Analyze the World's Media

Signal makes use of sophisticated natural language processing (NLP), entity recognition, de-duplication and clustering capabilities to ensure bespoke, highly accurate results in real time

Signal was born from a belief that, despite the fact that there’s never been more data available online, it’s never been harder to find the right information at the right time.

"Three years ago, I founded the company with Head of Research Dr Miguel Martinez and CTO Wes Hall. Wes was previously a lead engineer at businesses like Ebay, Gumtree and Fab.com. Miguel is an academic with a background in algorithms and machine-learning technology", says CEO and founder David Benigson. The software monitors over 3 million news and blogs every day to provide businesses with the most widespread and accurate coverage of the topics that are important to them. Users can access an intuitive, intelligent platform and build their own data feeds based on search queries that they can define themselves.

"When we founded Signal, we recognised the fact that there were already a lot of technology companies operating in this space. However, most of these organizations were founded pre-1999 and the world has changed rapidly since then – specifically with regards to the way we consume information digitally. A lot of the incumbents who dominate this space are still using the same legacy technology systems, they’re still offering up that technology in a fairly unwieldy interface, and often they’re offering up that product at a very expensive price-point", Benigson continues.

"At the other end of the market you’ve got the emergence of free consumer news tools, eg Google Alerts, Flipboard, Feedly: they’re super-intuitive, really easy to use and set up, but they don’t really have the power or the functionality to service an enterprise. So when we founded Signal, we saw this gap between those two groups and asked the question: could we apply best-in-class machine learning and natural language processing technology, and offer that tech in a platform with world-class, intuitive user experience?".

An interesting fact about Signal is that David didn't know his co-founders prior to founding the company. He explored every avenue to try and find the right partners to implement his vision. "I went to a lot of events, trawled LinkedIn and other professional forums, and visited various universities before I eventually found Miguel and Wes. We set up the original office in a garage and began to develop the business from there", David remembers.

"The fact that our interface is so easy to use reduces our clients' reliance on training and external analysts – this translates into lower costs for our users"

As a startup CEO David spends most of his time pitching to new clients – either on a call or in person. Often he will be joined by their Sales consultant, Russel Levi (ex-Head of Global Sales at Bloomberg). "We use the agile development methodology here at Signal, and that format directly impacts how we structure our working day. After my morning meetings, I join the rest of our team for our daily 'stand-up' – a group meeting where we summarise our achievements over the previous day and give a statement of our goals for the day ahead", Benigson says. Despite the fact that the company already has a number of clients who are enjoying their use of the tool, it is still in beta stage at the moment and therefore there is a big emphasis on developing and improving the platform.

"Signal's first office was set up in a garage and, from time to time, we had to meet with some of our investors there.Our office space was directly next to a working auto-repair garage so, on one occasion, we arranged for one of our investors (White Star Capital's Christian Hernandez) to get an MOT while we had our meeting", David remembers.

Selling the service in the business' pre-funding stage was one of the most challenging moments for Signal's team. "We managed to see the demand and meet it very quickly as we've developed, but that was a big challenge at the time. Having several satisfied clients early on has played a big part in securing our funding and helping us to grow", Benigson says.

At the end we've asked David what advices he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs and we would like to thank him for his answers (below).

Firstly, learn from your team. As a CEO, it is crucial to learn from the people you hire. You will always be in charge of making the key business decisions but the talent you hire should fill a much-needed role within your enterprise. Learning how to use these employees effectively is the best way for a CEO to develop their own business or technical skills.

Secondly, being able to build a team with the right mix of technical expertise and cultural fit. Your job as a CEO is to act as the mediator between the team of experts that you acquire. You have to have complete trust in them and their methods to be able to let them develop their designated areas of the business – which is why building a company with the right culture is crucial.

Finally, the ability to absorb new information quickly and effectively. Become your company's Chief Learning Officer. By becoming the repository and channel for information in a company, a CEO can build their own knowledge while simultaneously helping to shape the culture of education and development within their own enterprise.

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